Report: How Corporations Should Prioritize Social Business Budgets

One question I frequently get is “How much should I be spending on social media?” The answer, of course, is it depends. This report looks at how 140 Social Strategists spent on social media in 2010 — and their plans for 2011 (read report). From this deep data, my co-author, Jeremiah Owyang, and I, found that maturity levels are a key driver of social technology adoption, and hence, social spending. (Jeremiah also wrote a detailed post about the report). I *love* data, so this was a particular fun and satisfying report to work on with the team (special thanks to Christine Tran and Andrew Jones for being our data gurus).

I’ve included several key charts and points, as well as the report below. But here are a few key takeaways:

  • Budgets are the numerical depiction of your strategy. If you don’t have a coherent strategy, you won’t have a coherent budget. And the core of every strategy is a keen sense of what you will do — and what you won’t do. Thus, the budget expresses the prioritization of what you need to focus on. You have limited dollars, people, and time — so you better be focused on how you deploy your precious resources.
  • Over-invest in training. It was shocking to see how little people were investing in training. Social is hugely transformative, and I frequently find that most organizations are in desperate need to train not only their social strategists, but anyone touching the customer. Trainers in HR need to be brought into the fold — and they typically have budgets set aside for training employees, meaning more non-social business dollars that you can tap to support your strategy.
  • Don’t try to boil the ocean. While it’s fun to dig into the latest SCRM or community platform, unless your maturity level and strategy is aligned to take advantage of that level of social business sophistication, you’re wasting your dollars. Double down on the basics in each area of your social business and build a firm foundation for your long-term strategy, making sure that you are driving concrete business results (so that you can ask for even more budget next year!)

Report Details

The chart below shows the three different types of maturity levels (take a quick quiz to determine your maturity level), and how the average budget, team size, and also the way they are organized differs. The report has a great deal more detail on how adoption and thus spending differs by maturity.

We looked in greater detail at 12 spending categories in three areas: 1) Internal soft costs (staff, R&D, training); 2) Customer-facing initiatives; and 3) Technology investments. The graphic below shows the average spend for each of these categories, for those people who have adopted them. The story is nuanced because not every company is spending in areas like SCRM or community platforms.


This begs the question then, of what you need to do to prioritize in your budget, and thus your social strategy. We developed specific priorities and recommendations for each maturity level, summarized conveniently in the graphic below. Mashable also has a great write-up of the recommendations from the report.

Below is the report, followed by some key charts and findings: